I am always reticent to comment on the military. I am humbled and more than a little intimidated by their sacrifice and commitment. All week I've fretted over the words I would employ to describe Jeffery Hess' anthology. Who am I to question the motives or character of anyone in service to our country? But I think that's the point of HOME OF THE BRAVE:STORIES IN UNIFORM. I may tear up over Marine commercials and catch my breath at the presentation of the flag before Sunday Night Football, but there's a truth behind the drama; there are real people behind the romantic generalization.
Jeffery Hess has assembled a diverse collection. The stories involve characters and conflicts as varied as the narrative voices. Their is the common theme of military service, but that's the only thing some of these characters have in common. For those civilian readers who think they cannot relate to the intentions and motivations of military characters, Hess proves them wrong. There is not a single story in HOME OF THE BRAVE:STORIES IN UNIFORM I did not enjoy and want to share.
I always get excited when I stumble upon a second person narrator--a brilliant perspective for a military subject. It makes the plot of Amber Dermont's "Assembling the Troops" seem inevitable. It shifts blame from the characters as in Robert O'Connor's heroin addicts in "Buffalo Soldiers--Chapter 1."
Maybe I'm wrong, but I like to think for most affiliated with the armed forces, dedication is at the forefront of their intention to serve our country. Jeffery Hess reveals there is a depth and humanity to sacrifice and duty. Hess recently received a well deserved Gold Medal for Best Anthology by the Military Writers Society of America.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of HOME OF THE BRAVE: STORIES IN UNIFORM are donated to USA Cares, a nonprofit established to provide post-9/11 military families with financial and advocacy support in their time of need.